Saga Book was founded and is run by historians and historically-minded authors, notably Dr. Torgrim Titlestad from the University of Stavanger, so the historical component is important to them. But unfortunately, the sagas of Fridtjov the Bold and Torstein Vikingsson, the source material for Angrvadil, are very much based in fantasy, and not history. In the same way that the legend of King Arthur exists in its own space and time, Angrvadil seems to take place in a fantastic version of Scandinavia during a non-specific era of the late Iron Age or early Viking age.
We had to come to terms with this problem during production, as it actually hindered the illustration process. For instance, a character is described as hoisting sail in a ship, but the time period in which he is said to live raised the problem that shipmasters had not yet started using sails on longships. As we considered this, it became apparent that the illustrations had to fit the story first and foremost, and the history second.
Angrvadil is full of sorcerers, witches, dwarves, and monstrous villains, so it is clear it is not a historical document. However, its locations are real, and it is suggested that it could be a mythologized tale based on actual people and events, similar to the Iliad. As such, there is a lot of historical reference when it comes to the illustration of ship styles, clothing and fashion, and weapons, but it is not meant to be a historical document.
Professor Else Mundal from the University of Bergen says of this: "The present consensus is that, although some of the sagas contain a small core which is not fiction, or are based on historical characters, the primary function of the legendary sagas was entertainment, and the aim of the sagas has not been to present a historically accurate tale."
Else Mundal, "Sagalitteraturen", in Odd Einar Haugen (ed.) Handbok i norrøn filologi (Bergen, 2004)
Saga Book's primary purpose is to preserve and promote Norwegian heritage of the Viking Age. Since its inception in 1996, the tasks have been distributed at seminars and lectures, cultural events and publications. Since 2008, the company has primarily focused on publishing and has established itself in the book market as an important publisher of Viking saga and history.
ABOVE: cover art for Angrvadil
BELOW: interior illustrations for Angrvadil
Angrvadil, a fantasy book I recently illustrated, will be launched in Norway in April by the Norwegian publisher Saga Book. Adapted into modern Norwegian by Edvard Eikill, it is the epic story of a family of heroes who inherit a magic sword, battle sorcerers and monsters, and win fame, love, and fortune. It was a fascinating project to work on, and I wound up learning even more about Norse mythology, which is always a plus in my book.
This is where we post news, announcements, product launches, and musings on the design process. All posts written by Erik Evensen unless otherwise noted.
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